What Makes for a Successful Freelance Relationship?

Approach All Opportunities With Respect and Professionalism

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McKenzie Koch
McKenzie Koch
Huge lesson in my first year of employment -- don't let everyday life sidetrack you from the big picture. The transition from college to the real world will mean that you have less free time, but don't forget to take advantage of the awesome opportunities that come your way.

As part of the personal-networking strategy I mentioned in my last post, I reached out to Lynn Manternach, president-director of research at MindFire Communications.

MindFire is an Iowa-based agency and home to some of the most creative and driven people I've met in the business. Check out their website to learn more about them.

I'm a big believer in freelance work. Get great experience, improve your professional skills and get paid to do it. I met Manternach during a previous internship. She's friendly, immensely knowledgeable and a great mentor. She works with freelancers often, so I asked for her thoughts on the subject.

My question was, "What are the key components of a successful freelance relationship?" Here, the answers:

Be a professional.
Hiring a freelancer is often a way to identify a potential employee. Be professional, meet your deadlines and behave like a valued staff member. They'll begin to view you as such.

Communicate well.
When discussing potential projects, get a clear picture of what is expected from you. Specifics are vital. What are the deadlines? Can you realistically meet them? Should you check in to discuss your progress? This will allow you to consistently produce quality work. Clarity and communication will provide for a better working relationship.

Estimate wisely.
A sure bet to put an end to future freelancing opportunities? Turn in an invoice significantly higher than your estimate. You're selling your time, so be sure to get enough details so that you can accurately estimate the amount of time it will take. It's important to get it right.

Know your worth.
Manternach explained that freelancers often don't know their own worth. Research hourly rates and structuring in your area before you begin negotiations. Those who are new to the industry tend to undervalue their services, but make sure to factor in your experience and the local competition as well. Don't overestimate your worth or you'll never get hired.

Freelance relationships can be a steppingstone to professional industry experience, connections and great working relationships. Value your freelance employers and make sure to let them know it. A thank-you will never go unnoticed.

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